Sunday, 14 August 2016


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Sri Lanka finds another new hero in Dhananjaya

Sri Lanka has new heroes emerging from the ongoing three-Test series against Australia and yesterday it was the turn of Dhananjaya de Silva, one of the lesser known cricketers because he surfaced from a quartet of schools like Lalith Athulathmudali Vidyalaya, Ratmalana, Debarawewa MV Hambantota, Mahanama College and eventually Richmond College Galle.

Dhananjaya de Silva celebrating his maiden Test hundred. (Pix by Samantha Weerasiri)

De Silva came to the wicket with Sri Lanka reeling at 26 for five wickets and was still there at stumps unbeaten on 116 helping his team to recover to a more respectable total of 214 for five.

When Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara retired from international cricket a year or so ago there was a crying need for batsmen to fill the void they created in the national team.

For a couple of years Sri Lanka had to undergo the pain of defeats as their batting failed to put up the required totals for their bowlers to win matches. They tried a few of them who failed to deliver but in the ongoing series against the world no. 1 ranked Test team Australia they have unearthed two.

At Galle it was the exceptional batting of Kusal Mendis who converted his maiden Test century into one of winning proportions with a magnificent 176 that turned the first Test in Sri Lanka’s favour. Yesterday at the SSC grounds – the opening day of the third and final Test it was 24-year-old newcomer Dhananjaya de Silva playing in only his third Test to showcase his talent by scoring his maiden Test hundred. What were creditable of that innings were the circumstances under which he made those runs.

Having won the toss for a rare consecutive third time (for Angelo Mathews) Sri Lanka found themselves with half the side out for just 26 runs on the board within the first 75 minutes of play.

Mitchell Starc with the new ball snapped up both out of form openers Silva and Karunaratne (for the fifth time out of five innings) for 0 and 7 respectively and then the prize wicket of Kusal Mendis for one. The damage to the Lankan innings from the other end was done by spinner Nathan Lyon.

Brought into the attack by the sixth over he dismissed Kusal Perera for 16 and skipper Mathews for one. Sri Lanka found themselves in this position though a mixture of terrible batting against disciplined bowling by the Australians. The SSC pitch expected to be bone dry yet played to its true potential yielding assistant to the bowlers in the first session and then settling down for the rest of the day.

Sri Lanka’s new batting hero Dhananjaya de Silva batting against Australia on the opening day of the third and final Test at the SSC grounds yesterday

The nip and bite the Australian bowlers got out of it was missing when they came out after lunch. Although it was not an easy wicket to bat, there was less venom in it. Following the mayhem that followed in the first session of play cricket settled down to be played in a more meaningful manner when Dhananjaya de Silva joined vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal and the two set about doing the repair job. They batted throughout the next two sessions to dim Australian hopes of a breakthrough and place Sri Lanka firmly in a position they never looked like achieving at the end of the first session. The way De Silva batted right from the first ball he exuded confidence and there was never a doubt of a struggle against the Aussies attack as his team mates had displayed before him.

The ease with which de Silva took on the Australian bowling cracking 16 fours in his 240-ball innings gave his partner Chandimal the confidence to play second fiddle and be unbeaten on 64 at the end of the day in a partnership that is now worth 188 off 442 balls. It is a new sixth wicket record for Sri Lanka against Australia and the second highest for any wicket against the same opposition after the 230 between Asanka Gurusinha and Arjuna Ranatunga at the same venue in 1992.

The two dug in deep to frustrate the Australians who were cock-a-hoop at the end of the first session. By the 46th over Australia had exhausted both their reviews on De Silva - one when he was on 43 when they reviewed a catch behind the wicket off Holland and at 51 for an lbw decision off Mitchell Marsh. De Silva also had his moment when he successfully overturned a bat/pad catch off Nathan Lyon at five, and survived a dropped catch at 104 to Shaun Marsh at short extra cover off Starc with the second new ball.

At the start of series the fight for the no. 7 position was between De Silva and and Roshen Silva. De Silva got the nod because of his ability to bowl spin and because he was also an opener who could bat anywhere in the order. As expected Sri Lanka included Suranga Lakmal for Vishwa Fernando, but Australia made two changes leaving out batsmen Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja

for Shaun Marsh and Portugal-born all-rounder Moises Henriques who surprisingly didn’t get a bowl yesterday.

Sri Lanka leads the three-match series 2-0.


K Silva c Smith b Starc				00  
D Karunaratne b Starc				07  
K Perera c Smith b Lyon				16  
K Mendis c Smith b Starc			01  
A Mathews c Starc b Lyon			01  
D Chandimal not out				64  
D de Silva not out		     	       116  
Extras (b-4, lb-5)				09  
Total (5 wickets at close, 90 overs)	       214  

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Silva), 2-21(K Perera), 3-23 (Karunaratne)
		 4-24(Mathews), 5-26 (Mendis)
To bat: D Perera, R Herath, L Sandakan, S Lakmal. 
Bowling: Starc 18-7-47-3
	 Hazlewood 11-3-27-0
	 Lyon 34-9-72-2
	 Holland 21-5-34-0
	 M Marsh 5-0-20-0
	 Smith 1-0-5-0

AUSTRALIA: S Marsh, D Warner, S Smith, A Voges, M Henriques
	   M Marsh, P Nevill, M Starc, N Lyon, J Hazlewood, J Holland

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